MIDDLEPORT — Friday marked a first for Meigs County, as nine officers and local officials completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training.
Representatives from the Gallia and Meigs Sheriff’s Offices, Pomeroy Police Department, Middleport Police Department, Juvenile Court, the Adult Probation Department and Meigs County 911 took part in the 40-hour training.
Crisis Intervention Team Training began in Memphis, Tenn., and was brought to Ohio in 2001. This week’s training marked the first time officers in Meigs County had been a part of such a program. Gallia County hosted the first training in the area put on by Southeast Ohio NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in June of this year. Previous trainings have also been held in Athens County.
Southeast Ohio NAMI president Jill Austin said that the mental health advocacy group is “pleased to assist with the training program and hopes to continue and grow resources for those in need and their families.”
The week-long class was coordinated by Andrea Osborne of the Family and Children First Council in Meigs County. This training, according to Osborne, was due, in part, to a request from parents of children with mental health concerns.
According to the CIT website, the CIT is made up of volunteer officers who are called upon to respond to crisis calls that present officers face-to-face with complex issues relating to mental illness. CIT officers also perform their regular duty assignment as patrol officers, in addition to serving as members of the CIT.
The CIT officers participate in specialized training under the instructional supervision of mental health providers, family advocates, and mental health consumer groups.
“This changed the way I will handle certain calls,” said Meigs County Deputy Sheriff Scott Trussell. “I will now take more time to talk to people and help them get the services needed. It’s a totally different ideology after 25 years. We deal more with mental health than before.”
Speakers and presenters for the training included Dr. Dorothy Boston of Woodland Centers, Dr. Chantel Weisenmuller of Riverbend Behavioral Health, former Athens County Sheriff Redecker, Detective Nathan Harvey of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, Meigs County Juvenille Judge Scott Powell and Chaplain Bob Hood.
Following Friday’s training, Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning and Meigs County Sheriff Robert Beegle presented the class with certificates and pins for completing the course.
“This program was a great opportunity for the law enforcement community to partner with mental health professionals in both Gallia and Meigs counties. The networking information and training material was first rate. I commend the instructors and students, alike, for participating in this program designed to bring a better response to the communities and citizens we serve,” commented Browning.
Beegle congratulated the deputies and officers that completed the program and commented that it was a much-needed resource in the area and an additional tool help get the appropriate help to those in need before a crisis escalates. The help of participating agencies is greatly appreciated, he said.
“We’ve been doing a lot wrong in the past,” said Beegle. “It will enable us to better handle people in crisis.”
Also assisting with the program was Southern High School Counselor Jennifer Holt. Holt also works with the community-wide crisis safety plan.
Funding for the program was provided by Southern Local Schools Superintendent Tony Deem, the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Board of ADAMHS, the Meigs County Department of Job and Family Services, Gallia-Meigs Heart of the Valley Heart Start, Athens-Meigs ESC, Southeast Ohio NAMI, and Southern Ohio Behavioral Health. Additional support for the program came from the Meigs County Commissioners, Juvenile Court, Middleport Village and other community organizations and officials.
According to Osborne, another training is being planned for next year.